Ficus Religiosa belongs to the genus Moraceae (mulberry family or fig family), a plant native to India in the early days and has spread to places such as Nepal, China, southwest China, Thailand, Southeast Asia, and Vietnam over years.
This large broad evergreen tree has various adequate names such as Peepal tree, Pippala tree, Bodhi tree, Bo tree, Po tree, Peepul tree, Ashwattha tree, Sacred fig, Sacred ficus, Holy ficus, Poplar-leaved fig tree, Tree-of-wisdom, etc.
Throughout the Indian subcontinent, peepal trees are also known as sacred figs. It is considered to be of religious significance in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. Sages, Yogis, Buddhas, and more people used to sit and meditate under this tree to attain peace and tranquility.
Also, it is widely believed that Gautama Buddha (philosopher, meditator, mendicant, religious leader, spiritual teacher) who lived in ancient India attained enlightenment while meditating under a sacred fig tree.
The peepal tree is not used just for worship, it is also used as a medicinal tree because it contains a myriad of nutrients. All the parts of the peepal tree have been used extensively in the traditional medicine of various countries, including Ayurveda and Siddha medicine.
Combining various nutritional values, these herbal trees offer the full range of health benefits without any side effects. They act as a body heat reliever in conditions such as the common cold, flu, and fever caused by fear.
Besides, the results of a study show that these plants greatly help in relieving asthma. They contain antibacterial properties that can cure tooth decay, toothache, mouth ulcers, and eye pain.
The extract of this plant is used to treat ear infections and their impacts. The fruit, root, and bark of the peepal plant are used to treat jaundice caused by excess bilirubin. It has been officially proven that peepal trees have a very long lifespan of 900 to 1,500 years.
But these trees are widely believed to have lived for more than 3,000 years in its native lands and clay soils. The peepal tree in Anuradhapura (the oldest city in Sri Lanka) is named Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi .
Its highlight is its age, so it is proud to be the “Oldest historical tree in the world with religious significance”. The peepal tree (sacred fig) with various medicinal properties and health benefits has been designated as the state tree of Odisha, India.
Parts of Peepal Tree
Ficus Religiosa is an arid deciduous tree that can grow up to 30 meters in height and its trunk is about 3 meters in diameter. These semi-evergreen trees grow very large, dense, widespread, and are cultivated along roadsides, parks, and on sidewalks.
Though the peepal tree can grow in many types of soil, it thrives nutritiously in alluvial and clayey soils. . The sacred fig tree has many medicinal properties and grows well in shallow soils, including rocky outcrops.
The trunk of these trees look like huge pillars that are in direct contact with the roots. These irregularly shaped stems grow upright using a lateral structure called buttresses. The stem of this plant is light gray in color and has rough bark on the outside. It also has numerous medicinal properties.
Ficus Religiosa is the largest tree from the family of figs. When it was a sapling, these plants grow on another plant called the epiphytic. Not only on other plants, they also grow on the cracks of the walls and are strangled by its rope-like roots. Due to this growing nature, these plants grow into a solitary tree over time. These sacred trees are grown in most places as they are drought and frost resistant.
Peepal trees have cordate (heart-shaped), smooth and glossy leaves with a distinctive elongated drip tip. The leaves are 10–17 cm long, 8–12 cm wide, and petiole are 6–10 cm long.
The solid nerve located in the middle of the leaf, joins with the other leaf nerve at the upper end to form a wavy line near the edge of the leaf. Sharp leaf tips help to keep water out of the leaves after rain and keeps the tree dry.
Peepal trees that grow in tropical regions shed their leaves in the autumn and from March to April. Young leaves are pink to copper in color, medium leaves are light green, and mature leaves are dark green.
Very differently, the flowers of the peepal plant are completely hidden within its fruit, with a few male flowers located near the small opening of petals that are found at the apex of the fruit, all of which largely support a single pollen.
At the same time, the female flowers include a pistol and come with five petals with one petal more than the male flowers. Typically, these trees begin to shed flowers between November and December.
Peepal tree is sometimes called the Indian fig tree. It has a very small fruit that is about 1-1.5 cm long. It is very soft and green in color before ripe, but turns to purple when ripe.
The anthers that appear at the axis between the leaf stem and the branch come out in pairs. Delicious and nutritious figs ripen in the summer months of May and June.
Historical Background of Peepal
The peepal tree is considered to be of historical significance and religious significance not only in ancient times but also in modern times. No other tree in the world is known to have the same lifespan as the peepal tree.
These trees can live up to 3000 years and are considered as enlightening trees by Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. Numerous historical references in different languages suggest that sages, yogis, and buddhas would sit under a peepal tree and meditate in order to attain enlightenment, peace, and serenity.
Prince Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha) was born to a proud royal family called the Kshatriyas in Lumbini, had attained enlightenment while meditating under a peepal tree thus it’s called Bodhi Tree.
The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka is still considered to be one of the most historically significant trees in that area. This is because they have been cultivated in 288 BC, with an estimated age of 2,250 years.
It is a matter of pride that the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree is the oldest plant in the world till date. The peepal tree is considered by the Hindus as the image of the three great Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, and it is believed that Vishnu was born under the peepal tree.
In earlier times, the Village Panchayat meetings were mostly held under this tree, as the mature peepal trees provide ample shade. Yesterday, today, and forever, the sacred fig tree is revered as a symbol of happiness, good luck, longevity, and prosperity.
PROVEN HEALTH BENEFITS OF PEEPAL
1. Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth
Studies show that all the parts of the Peepal tree (root, bark, leaf, fruit) have anti-cancer properties. The extract obtained from this plant has anti-proliferative effects and they are highly effective in biochemical mechanisms such as enhancement of apoptosis, inhibition of cancer cell circulation, and suppression of cell proliferation.
A 2012 study on the extract from the peepal tree has confirmed that they have antiproliferative effects on cancer cells. Besides, the study results show that these extracts also carry out apoptosis processes, i.e. apoptosis is known as programmed cell death or cellular suicide.
In particular, the extract derived from peepal leaves contains bioactive components that stimulate the process of apoptosis within cancer cells with the generation of reactive oxygen species.
Reactive oxygen species capable of fighting free radicals greatly contribute to the rapid death of cancer cells and their growth. So patients who are prone to cancer can get quick relief from the disease by drinking peepal leaf juices with proper guidance.
2. Treats Asthma
Asthma is a respiratory disorder caused by the accumulation of mucus in the lungs and airways, so that oxygen reaching the lungs and other organs in the body is blocked. Therefore, Asthma was considered as one of the most dangerous problems in medical circles and was one of the rarest diseases in the early days.
But it is unfortunate that external factors such as changing circumstances, and polluted environment have now become a common disease for most people.
Asthma in both children and elders can be cured by the bioactive components present in the leaves of the peepal tree. Chronic asthma can be cured quickly by powdering the leaves, boiling it in milk, and drinking it twice a day.
Not only leaves, peepal fruits and bark also contribute to the treatment of asthma. Both should be dried well in the sunlight and powdered separately.
Take equal amounts of these powders in the ratio of 1: 1 and intake it 3 times a day to get rid of asthma. Consuming dried peepal fruit powder with water at the rate of 3 times a day for 14 consecutive days will be very effective for asthma.
3. Relieves Eczema
Eczema is a skin infection with the symptoms of skin inflammation, red/white patches, cracks, itching, etc. Some types of eczema can cause blisters and make the skin very rough.
There are different types and stages of the eczema disease, with data showing that approximately 31.6 million people are affected by eczema in the United States.
The bark obtained from the trunks of the Peepal tree has healing effects on Eczema. It also provides a cooling effect on the skin. Finely grind the bark of this plant and take 50g of it and mix it with ghee and lime to make a paste.
Applying this paste daily to the affected areas will reduce the impact of eczema. Besides, it is very effective to drink tea made with Peepal bark.
4. Lowers Blood Sugar Level
Diabetes is the most common condition that occurs in one in 5 people today. It’s not a disease but a condition of blood sugar fluctuations. Both high or low blood sugar can lead to many health problems, so it is important to keep your blood sugar stable.
Controlling diabetes can help prevent a variety of complications. Peepal can help manage diabetes effectively. Yes! The root of this tree has the ability to lower blood sugar levels.
A study result shows that the extract from its roots has anti-diabetic properties. There is scientific evidence that their anti-diabetic properties significantly reduce sugar levels when patients intake peepal root extract in appropriate doses.
The anti-diabetic properties of Peepal root extract are due to the combination of β-Sitosterol-D-glucoside in them. It is also possible to lower blood sugar by taking equal amounts of both Peepal fruit powder and Haritaki fruit powder.
5. Handles Jaundice
The disease that occurs in the body due to excessive bilirubin production is called jaundice, which has the potential to cause serious harm.
It can take a long time to get rid of jaundice caused by the liver and it may not be able to handle the red blood cells effectively. So there will be restrictions on the daily diet for six consecutive months even after the disease has cleared up.
Such a complex disease can affect our habitual lifestyle and in Ayurveda it is treated with the help of a peepal tree. Wash the fresh leaves of the Peepal tree in water, and add 1 cup of water, then beat well in a blender. Next, strain it and add a little sugar to it and drink it 2 to 3 times a day as a medicine.
Jaundice and related symptoms can be cured very quickly by drinking this Peepal juice continuously for 90 days. The use of natural peepal leaves for jaundice can increase the body’s resistance.
6. Has Antibacterial Properties
Laboratory research has demonstrated that aqueous and ethanolic extracts from various parts of the peepal tree have excellent antibacterial properties.
According to the study, Peepal extract has the potential to destroy harmful bacterias including Salmonella typhi, Salmonella aureus, Salmonella typhimurium, Salmonella paratyphi, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Shigella dysenteriae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
On the other hand, another study on peepal has tested the juice obtained from the fruits of this plant.
At the end of the study, the green photosynthetic pigment called chlorophyll in peepal fruit juice had the ability to fight off bacteria such as Bacillus cereus, Bacillus megaterium, Klebsiella pneumonia, Azotobacter chroococcum, Streptomycin lactis, and Streptococcus faecalis.
In addition, animal research has shown that peepal juice has the ability to fight off fungi such as Penicillium notatum and Aspergillus niger, which can cause worse fungal infections.
7. Acts as an Antioxidant
Researchers have found that the very small purple fruit and strong bark of the Peepal tree contain high levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants have the power to inhibit the growth of free radicals that disrupt the body’s immune system, and help to protect the body from various infections.
Properly derived aqueous juice (semisolid or solid consistency) from the peepal bark and fruit inhibits the excessive growth of free radicals and neutralizes it.
Oxidative stress is a dangerous issue that can cause great damage to vital internal organs of the body, including the heart. But this oxidative stress can be prevented by this process.
Nitric oxide is another type of harmful free radical in the body and is easily controlled by the production and growth of peepal leaf juices.
8. Helps to Cure Fever
When the body changes or rises from a normal temperature of 98.6 F, it is referred to as a fever. Fever is not a disease, but an abnormal condition of the body.
Fever more likely occurs due to various external causes, which can be cured overnight. But this condition is usually an obvious sign for infection, that is, the body is trying to fight off some disease causing microbes.
The Ficus Religiosa tree treats both infectious fever and common fever. Wash the young peepal leaves well and put it in a bowl, add milk and sugar then cook it for a while. Drinking this mixture 2 times a day will cure fever and cold very quickly.
9. Beneficial for Oral Health
Ficus Religiosa treats a variety of mouth-related problems such as toothache, tooth decay, tooth stains, bleeding gums, bad breath, and mouth ulcers. Due to the anti-bacterial properties found in this plant, they can help your oral health by removing bacterias from the mouth.
Processes such as chewing the branches of the tree, brushing the teeth with the branches, and rinsing the mouth with boiled peepal branches will provide a clean and hygienic mouth by removing the bacteria, toxins, and stains that remain in the mouth.
Daily use of Peepal branches can easily prevent all infections and diseases that can spread orally. For some people, tooth stain is caused by calcium deficiency and tobacco habits.
These stains cannot be removed by ordinary toothpaste but the peepal branches have the ability to remove it easily, thus well-dry this branch and prepare it as a toothpowder.
Take the bark powder of Banyan & Peepal tree in the equal ratio and mix it with water and then boil the mixture. This distilled water can be used as a mouthwash, thereby reducing toothache and gum pain.
10. Treats Ear Infections
An ear infection caused by a virus or bacteria in the air-filled area at the back of the eardrum. It can cause pain and fever. Symptoms of an ear infection include partial deafness, fluid leaking from the ear, stabbing, and so on.
Most superficial ear infections can recover on their own with the help of the body’s antibiotics, but some infections require treatment. In Ayurveda, peepal tree leaves are used to treat these ear infections which can cause pain and suffering.
The leaves plucked from the tree should be kept near fire for some time, in a very short time the extract will emerge from it, and this should be collected in a bowl. Then just add 2 or 3 drops of peepal leaf extract to the ear, it will definitely work.
11. Alleviates Eye Infections
Conjunctivitis, discomfort, Corneal abrasion, Contact lens irritation, Blepharitis, Mild irritation, Injury, Sty, and many other reasons can cause pain in the eye, this condition is called ophthalmalgia.
Pain that usually occurs in the upper part of the eye can cause sensations such as itching, pain, and irritation, which can be very embarrassing. Although these are normal eye pain, if left untreated they can cause many adverse effects that can affect your eyesight as well.
Peepal leaf extract has been used traditionally to treat eye pain since ancient times. And eye pain can also be treated by applying the milk that comes out from the leaves when plucked.
12. Maintains Healthy Heart
Heart disease is caused by various external and internal factors such as thickened heart muscle, high blood sugar, low blood sugar, high LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, radiation therapy, certain chemotherapy drugs, and lung disorders.
The leaves of Ficus Religiosa prevent deadly diseases of the heart. Take a jar full of water and add some young peepal leaves in it and let the mixture soak overnight.
The next morning, filter the water and consume it. Drink it daily 2 to 3 times a day. This effectively blocks the symptoms of rapid heartbeat, heart pain, and heart weakness and helps the heart to function better.
This filtered water increases the strength of the heart and protects the body from dangerous cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, chest pain, and stroke.
13. Treats Neurodegenerative Diseases
Both Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s are called Neurodegenerative Diseases, the symptoms of which are caused by various neuro disorders and memory loss.
Alzheimer’s is caused by the abnormal formation of proteins around brain cells, and Parkinson’s is caused by the deficiency or loss of dopamine hormone (neurotransmitter). Both neurological diseases can cause memory loss, cognitive impairment, and muscle stiffness. Many traditional medicine practitioners in India have proven that peepal trees help to cure neurodegenerative diseases.
Methanolic extract derived from peepal bark has the property of inhibiting a cholinergic enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme blocks the neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is naturally produced in the body, and causes memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2014 study of peepal tree extract demonstrated that the bioactive compounds in them inhibit the activity of acetylcholine estrogen and promote the growth of nerve tissue. In addition, the results of the study show that peepal leaf juices contain high levels of antioxidants that help to fight against Parkinson’s disease.
Overall, Ficus Religiosa has been recognized by Ayurveda as a potential remedy for treating brain-related disorders.
14. Best Blood Purifying Agent
In nature, the Ficus Religiosa tree acts as an excellent blood purifier. Contaminants in the blood are expelled by drinking 50 ml of tea 3 times a week.This tea is made using the bark of the tree.
And a decoction made by boiling the DRIED PEEPAL FRUIT POWDER in water also acts as a blood purifier and treats skin ailments. The seeds available in small peepal fruits should be dried well and powdered. This powder is mixed with two grams of honey and taken twice a day to flush out the toxins from the blood.
To treat gastrointestinal disorders caused by contaminated blood, mix five grams of peepal bark powder in 40 ml of water, and consume it as a kwath (Kashaya).
15. Treats Skin Diseases
Peepal leaves are used to treat many skin ailments such as itching, acne, eczema, rosacea, white patches, red patches, ichthyosis, hives, and vitiligo. Ayurveda uses these medicinal herbs to treat all types of skin diseases.
According to the researchers, the anti-inflammatory properties of these leaves suppress the irritation caused by the bacteria on the skin and speed up the healing process.
Besides, salicylic acid in peepal leaves acts as a herbicide to control its effects when itching occurs on the skin due to allergies and provides relief.
The young leaves of the Peepal tree should be chewed daily in the morning to treat skin diseases. Or drink about 40 ml of tea daily to get rid of skin problems.
Grind the tender leaves of the Ficus Religiosa plant and apply it on the affected areas to cure skin irritation, facial pimples, blackheads, and less skin tone.
16. Limits Diarrhea
Peepal leaves are the best remedy for both chronic and bleeding diarrhea. In general, diarrhea can lead to major loss of body minerals and fluids, when this condition persists they can initially cause dehydration and organ failure, which can even lead to death, if not treated for a long time.
Take young peepal leaves, sugar, and coriander seeds in the ratio of 1: 1: 1 and chew it. Ingestion of this mixture 3 times a day will stop continuous diarrhea and bloody stool, also this mixture will add strength to the body.
17. Effective for Wounds & Ulcers
Research has shown that peepal leaf extract has significant anti-ulcer properties, so it is used as an excellent herbal remedy for burns, cuts, wounds, and ulcers. In a study of Ficus Religiosa leaf extract, people applied it to the wounds, as a result the extract not only reduced the healing time but also showed significant shrinkage in the injured area.
But all these processes are accelerated depending on the immediate application of this extract to the wounds. Medical experts have proven that this peepal leaf extract is very effective in combating ulcers triggered by worse stress conditions.
Clinically, ulcer formation and growth are inhibited as a result of the induced activity of bioactive compounds, including flavonoids. But as a result of anti-ulcer property in peepal leaf juices can prevent ulcer formation.
18. Helps to Cure Inflammation
The extract derived from the strong bark and soft leaves of the Peepal tree has anti-inflammatory properties and these act as excellent natural pain relievers.
Leading traditional medicine methods such as Ayurveda recommends the use of bark extract of Ficus Religiosa tree to treat problems like toothache, gingivitis, bleeding gums.
Peepal bark is traditionally used in Indian folk medicine to reduce inflammation both internally and externally. Studies have shown that the bark and leaf extract of this tree contain bioactive compounds such as steroids and tannins which are effective against inflammation and the resulting pain.
19. Expels Parasitic Worms
Different types of worms survive in different parts of the human body, some of which are beneficial and some are extremely harmful to the body. Haemonchus contortus, a worm that lives in the human body, is a major cause for various diseases in humans.
A recent study of the juice extracted from the bark of the Ficus Religiosa tree has found that it acts against the Haemonchus contortus parasitic worm, also known as the barber’s pole worm.
Ascariasis caused by a parasitic worm called Ascaris in the small intestine is also eliminated with the help of the peepal plant. Anthelmintic properties against parasitic worms are found in latex emanating from the peepal tree.
This latex contains a substance called ficin, which is effective against Ascaris and helps to expel them.
20. Boosts Immunity
All parts of the Ficus Religiosa tree contain high levels of antioxidants which greatly contribute to boosting the body’s immune system. According to recent studies, the juice of Peepal wood bark has the ability to produce high levels of antibodies and cellular response when ingested in appropriate amounts.
Extracts with such properties will stimulate the immune system and help it function more efficiently. Thus the body gains the ability to fight free radicals and has the power to neutralize it.
21. Controls Cholesterol
Obesity is one of the most important causes of heart disease, and these can have a variety of consequences and cause problems in our daily life. Extracts from different parts of the Peepal tree are effective in reducing LDL cholesterol, which is a low-density lipoprotein that is deposited in various parts of the body.
Regular consumption of Peepal extract in the morning lowers LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and significantly increases HDL cholesterol. Therefore peepal juice is highly recommended for people who want to lose weight.
22. Stops Persistent Hiccups
Persistent hiccups can be a symptom of certain diseases such as pneumonia, alcoholism, esophagus, uremia, pleurisy of the diaphragm, bowel diseases, disorders of the stomach.
Besides, hiccups can also occur continuously or frequently with bladder irritation, hepatitis, pancreatitis, and liver cancer. Persistent hiccups can first irritate the phrenic nerves or vagus nerves and then damage the nerves.
To control hiccups, 50-100 g of Ficus Religiosa wood bark should be burned in the fire until the bark turns to charcoal and then mix it with water. The water thus obtained can be used as medicine for hiccups patients.
23. Good for Impotence
In Ayurveda, Ficus Religiosa is used as a short-term treatment for infertility and impotence. Take 5-6 drops of milky latex extracted from the root, bark, and fruit of this medicinal tree and mix it with ghee or honey and utilize it as a remedy for impotence. Women can conceive naturally without any complications by taking the same medicine.
Men who have problems with sexual intercourse can mix Peepal fruit powder with milk and drink it 3 times a day to get the required strength for the body. To improve sexual potency, take an equal amount of shunthi, peepal bark, root, and fruit powder mixed with milk and take 2 times daily.
In addition, the power of the root, bark, fruit, and shunga powder of the Peepal tree can be mixed with honey or sugar to increase sexual potency.
24. Inhibits Nosebleeds
Nosebleeds mean recurrent nasal passages from the anterior epistaxis. Besides, continuous nosebleeds are caused by many reasons like injury, congenital, structural problems, picking the nose, blowing the nose.
The leaves of Peepal trees treat frequent nosebleeds or a series of nosebleeds. The leaves of these trees should be thoroughly cleaned and then ground in a blender to separate only the extract from it. Nosebleeds can be stopped within a few minutes by applying a few drops of the peepal leaf extract on the bleeding nasal area.
25. Treats Epilepsy
One of the central nervous system disorders is epilepsy. Here, the brain function is abnormalized during epilepsy and it can have symptoms such as loss of consciousness, abnormal behavior, and seizures.
Epilepsy is a common disease that affects people of all ages, different ethnic backgrounds, and all genders. Ficus Religiosa tree is approved by Ayurveda to treat many diseases related to the central nervous system.
Studies have shown that the juice extracted from different parts of this tree is effective in reducing epileptic seizures. Researchers also believe that these are ideal for treating epilepsy.
Importantly, Peepal tree extract contains a bioactive compound called cyproheptadine, which has a relaxing effect on the muscles as it exerts an anti-seizure effect. Experts suggest that it treats the central nervous system disorders through this effective process.